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Tankless Hot water heaters
Old 05-02-2006, 10:10 PM   #1
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Tankless Hot water heaters

Been thinking of installing a tankless water heater on a house that I just purchased in Mexico. I know they can be pricey. (Up to $1,000) so I looked at E-Bay and saw some that could probably be had for about $350 range, but don't know if they are any good.

Anybody have one. This would be one that runs off propane gas. Wondered about brand name and what to look for and what is important. I looked at the specs at the ones on E-Bay, but I don't know if what they have is good or not.
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters
Old 05-02-2006, 10:17 PM   #2
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters

Had one for about 2 years here in Tampa. Never had a problem. The old system had a 40 gallon tank -- in the attic. Those things rupture when they get old sometimes, so it seemed like a good idea.

We have had no problems at all. Don't remember the price but it was only a little more than conventional. We have an LP tank on our property and run it off of that, so it's cheap.

You can run it all day and it just stays hot. You just never run out.
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters
Old 05-02-2006, 10:35 PM   #3
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters

WHAT BRAND IS THE ONE YOU HAVE?
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters
Old 05-03-2006, 05:48 AM   #4
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters

What is the advantage over a tank?

I have a Water Heater, it has a fan to vent the fumes away, very noisy and even though it is only a few years old, I need something that is quieter.
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters
Old 05-03-2006, 07:09 AM   #5
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters

They just had a section on these on "Ask this old house". Advantages: last longer and use less energy. Dis: cost more up front. I probably will look at one when my water heater dies.
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters
Old 05-03-2006, 07:12 AM   #6
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters

We have a Noritz. Works great. I don't know what features are important, though; the builder picked it out.

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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters
Old 05-03-2006, 07:29 AM   #7
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters


My plumber cautioned about it, said not yet. Can't remember why, but he had nothing invested in it and knows more than I do.
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters
Old 05-03-2006, 07:35 AM   #8
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maximillion
What is the advantage over a tank?

I have a Water Heater, it has a fan to vent the fumes away, very noisy and even though it is only a few years old, I need something that is quieter.
A tank water heater has to keep 40-50 gals of water at temp, whereas a tankless heats water as you use it, and is off the rest of the time.
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters
Old 05-03-2006, 07:54 AM   #9
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters

Installed one on the wifes old house 2 years ago.

Ups: continuous hot water. Low energy use, particularly if your uses are sporadic and typical, ie everyone gets up in the morning, showers, runs the dishes, goes to work for 10 hours during which no hot water is used. Small and can be wall mounted up and out of the way. More sophisticated units can take replacements of components of the heater, extending its life for decades. In general, providing the intake water is PH balanced and has no highly corrosive elements, the tankless units will outlast a tank unit without part replacement by at least 20-30%.

Downs: not much savings if you use hot water regularly throughout the day. For gas unit, may have to resize or relocate vent stack and will most likely have to raise it to 4-5' over the roofline to meet many local building codes (suckers get hot). Vent stack might also need to be completely straight with no bends per building code requirements or a special blower fan might need to be installed. The <$500 ones are frequently half inch and will supply hot water to one demand spot and will peter off if you open another faucet. Some people are perfectly okay with this and will crow that they use 3 at a time and its great for them. If you're used to getting really hot water at the sink or for dishes or clothes while someone is in the shower, you wont think its that great. Models that service two or more faucets with good hot water run about a grand. Unit heats water by adding a certain number of degrees/boosting the temp, not usually to a specific output temperature like most tank heaters, so you may have to adjust the burner level between summer and winter gradually. If partial pipe blockage occurs (debris in water supply, corrosion), extremely hot water can be suddenly or gradually produced. Some models require periodic replacement of an intake valve, which is cheap enough, but for some reason the manufacturer used non-stainless screws and the screws cant be backed out after a couple of years, requiring removal and replacement of a much larger portion of the heater - people who have or are interested in installing these units are advised to see if their unit is part of this 'problem', take the heater offline, remove the iron screws and replace with stainless. I believe the cheaper Bosch units and a few others that are similar and sold under different names are the problem children here. Gas units require a tremendous amount of inflow air that is exhausted through the vent stack, so interior installation can be problematic. It'll work but you'll lose a good amount of interior heated air in the winter and cooled air in the summer, and may need to keep a window open or have a special intake vent to an exterior wall installed. Exterior mounting in a garage or external closet is ideal, but if temps in those areas drop below freezing, the radiator in the unit may freeze and burst. Gas models can be very loud, like a small jet engine, making interior installations problematic. If you're used to having a furnace inside your house, this wont be much worse. If intake water temperature is too low, you may either need to use a much bigger unit or put two of them in series.

In our case the implementation was pretty good. Its a temperate region that rarely freezes, we had an exterior well vented closet, the roof was already off the house, so reducting to a larger taller duct wasnt a big deal. One bathroom so we could get away with a smaller unit. Did buy the Bosch and did replace the iron screws on the intake valve with lubed stainless screws. We were also replumbing the house, so any plumbing extras werent extra. Intake water temperature only varied 15-20 degrees between mid summer and mid winter.

Very popular in some parts of the world, where tanks are infrequently seen.

A great idea for people who have big families that need to take an hour or two of showers one after the other, or who have heavy serial hot water usage, or people who use hot water at specific periods of the day with long periods of low/no use.

For a house in mexico, your building codes are likely to be lower than the US, the water input temp is likely to be fairly consistent, and the exterior temps if mounted in an outside cabinet are likely to be favorable. I'd still be careful with the intake and venting on a gas model, regardless of building codes. The one we put in was like a small jet engine mounted to the wall of an exterior closet on the house...
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters
Old 05-03-2006, 08:23 AM   #10
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters

CFB, good post, obviously it does not solve my situation, noise is a concern, not cost.
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters
Old 05-03-2006, 09:31 AM   #11
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters

Good info. Thanks.

At my mother's house, the bathrooms are well away from the water heater and you have to run the water a while to get hot water. I've often wondered about a tankless heater for the bathrooms. At my apartment my water heater is about 12" from my shower valve, so I'm a bit spoiled to having near-instant hot water.

With this discussion I'm wondering about multiple tankless water heaters to replace a tank heater; one to server each bathroom, and one to serve the kitchen and washer/dryer. No heater would need to serve more than one faucet at a time. (Mom's place is all electric.)
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters
Old 05-03-2006, 09:40 AM   #12
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters

Of course, you'll have to run a 240v, 50A circuit to each location...
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters
Old 05-03-2006, 09:44 AM   #13
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigMoneyJim
Good info. Thanks.

At my mother's house, the bathrooms are well away from the water heater and you have to run the water a while to get hot water. I've often wondered about a tankless heater for the bathrooms. At my apartment my water heater is about 12" from my shower valve, so I'm a bit spoiled to having near-instant hot water.

With this discussion I'm wondering about multiple tankless water heaters to replace a tank heater; one to server each bathroom, and one to serve the kitchen and washer/dryer. No heater would need to serve more than one faucet at a time. (Mom's place is all electric.)
Our tankless heater is just on the other side of the wall from our shower, and it still takes a few seconds to clear the line and deliver hot water from a cold start. Multiple heaters would not eliminate this problem.

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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters
Old 05-03-2006, 09:45 AM   #14
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters

I tried a small electric unit in my kitchen for a few years, then the sucker started leaking like a sieve. One of my buddy's who is a plumber said that all of the small electric units stink and do that after a year or two. I took it out.

Problem you'd have in a multiple install situation is cost. A decent electric unit in each area would cost you a couple of thousand bucks to buy, not to mention the installation...even electric units need an overflow/pressure drain. Cheap ones are gonna leak.

Coolest option I've seen was a small electric pump with a timer installed between the hot and cold in remote bathrooms. At a specific time of the day, usually 5-10 minutes before you usually take your morning shower, the pump starts and transfers water from the hot water pipe to the cold water pipe until the water from the hot pipe is actually hot. Water taken from the 'hot' pipe goes into the 'cold' pipe, which ends up back in the hot water heater as you drain it from the 'hot' side. Sort of does the 'run the water for 5 minutes' thing for you, without wasting the water. Its an easy install, you remove any pair of hot/cold valves under a sink in the bathroom, screw on the inlet/outlet connection from the pump, screw the hot/cold valves back on over the inlet/outlet connections, wire into the A/C, set the timer, voila. I havent tried them yet, but I was going to in my old mcmansion. New house has the kitchen and bath close to the HWH.
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters
Old 05-03-2006, 10:06 AM   #15
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters

My parents are still on their first tankless heater installed in 1973.
Natural gas, no fan, pilot light, modulated output (so the temperature will adjust regardless of the input watertemp), I think it's some Bosch knock-off.
Seals replaced probably three times, water jacket (dunno what's an English name for it) replaced once.
I'm not sure if the current generation will last that long - for the house me & my brother are finishing for my parents we've got a current model Bosch natural gas with piezoelectric ignition (2 D batteries last about 18 months).

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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters
Old 05-03-2006, 12:19 PM   #16
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters

We have an electric one. It sometimes (often) causes brown outs (the lights flicker) when it's heating water. Currently we're battling with the power company. They won't upgrade the transformer unless we pay for it, even though we're using more water. And it's actually written into state regulations that our water heater is illegal, but we didn't know that when we bought it.

There are more details, of course, but my husband deals with them.
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters
Old 05-03-2006, 01:08 PM   #17
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters

Tankless water heaters are as popular in Panama as water tanks are in the states. Never used one till we got here and will be installing it in our new house. It heats the water WAY faster than a tank. The brand in the house we rent is called "Master Hot." Since it is in english I assume it's available in the US or the UK. It also has a setting for low and high although we just leave it on high. It's fueled by liquid gas and a tall bottle (about 4' tall...sorry it doesn't list the size) will last us over a month. That's with running a gas stove and three people showering.
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters
Old 05-03-2006, 01:30 PM   #18
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters

Don't we have any survivalists here?

Your hot water heater is your potable water source of last resort. What are you tankless people going to do when the Big One hits?
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters
Old 05-03-2006, 02:54 PM   #19
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters

Quote:
Don't we have any survivalists here?

Your hot water heater is your potable water source of last resort.* *What are you tankless people going to do when the Big One hits?* *
n/k. I thought there was some poor suckers living in the attics of NOLA living off of warm water from their water heaters. :P
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters
Old 05-03-2006, 03:07 PM   #20
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Re: Tankless Hot water heaters

We still have a tank hot water heater. We just need to turn it on. My husband is totally prepared for the economic collapse of the world when we will have to be independent of the gov't. I just have to convince him that he'll have to do without the internet.
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